That we are at a crossroads in human history is plain to see. It is up to each one of us, I would contend, to choose which path he or she will go down. What we have been taught in school, by our parents, and by tradition is important when we it comes to making this choice. But it is not enough. We must investigate our hearts to intuit the correct path. However, we do not have to turn inward alone, for we are not the isolated individual of Hobbes, Nietzsche, and the likes. We are humans and, as such, possess the ability to be in communio with others by the use of language.
Each of us, then, can employ language, whether it be visual art, music, mathematics, science, philosophy, or literature, as a guide in the search for meaning. For we now stand at a crossroads where we must answer the question: What is it to be human? In giving an answer, no matter what it is, each will contribute to the truth that is to be found in human nature.
If we lose the grip on the question at hand, we are in danger of forfeiting our humanity. We must keep the grip, but we must hold-on loosely. When the grip becomes too tight, as it has through the idioms of scientific reductionism as it has been employed in social and psychological sciences, we allow ourselves to be defined by our creations; in the mirror we see the reflection of human technology and the economic systems that drive it, staring back at us as our reflection. Is this what it is to be human?
Rich Murphy understands what is at stake. Heidegger wrote, “To be a poet in a destitute time means: to attend, singing, to the trace of the fugitive gods. This is why the poet in the time of the world’s night utters the holy.” There can be little doubt that we are in a destitute time. And we are at a crossroads. Rich Murphy’s book of poems, Practitioner Joy, may serve as a candle in a moonless night, for the poet speaks best of the ineffable aspects of our humanity. Let us listen to the poet’s song.
Over the next weeks and months (a new post every week or two), I will be sharing my thoughts on the poems in Practitioner Joy. I urge you to purchase a copy and ruminate along with me. Maybe together we can help one another answer the question “What is it to be human?” In doing so, we can then each make a choice, alone but not, on which road to take. Please join me on this journey.